Break-ins carried out by kids aged just 10
Dozens of children – some as young as 10 – have been caught housebreaking in North Lanarkshire, shocking new figures reveal.
A total of 42 youngsters from the area were referred to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA), placing North Lanarkshire third in the housebreaking list of shame, behind Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The statistics, obtained by the Scottish Conservatives through a Freedom of Information request, cover a three-year period until 2017.
In North Lanarkshire, nine 13-yearolds were referred to the children’s reporter for housebreaking-related offences, including theft of a vehicle.
A dozen 14-year-old housebreakers and would-be offenders were collared during that time, along with sixteen 15-year-olds.
Five or fewer offenders in each of the 10, 11, 12 and 16 age groups were similarly snared. To protect the children’s identities SCRA would not be drawn on specific numbers in those age categories.
According to SCRA records, a total of 517 children aged eight-to-17 across Scotland were referred during that period for housebreaking.
Of those, 186 occurred last year; a figure that has remained much the same for the past three years.
The statistics revealed 15 was the most common age for a youngster to be referred for housebreaking.
Shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr said it is essential that work is done with those referred to ensure housebreaking is not an offence that will be repeated in later life.
In September it was revealed that housebreaking has a police clear-up rate of just 22.5 per cent.
Last month the Scottish Government outlined plans to increase the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from eight to 12.
Mr Kerr said:“Being broken into and robbed is one of the most upsetting things that can happen.
“It’s irrelevant what age the perpetrators are. It remains terrifying and can leave a lasting impact.
“It’s alarming that hundreds of children have been referred for this crime across Scotland in recent years and the trend isn’t improving.
“We need to get in and ensure these youngsters are put on the right path because once people start out on this road to a career in crime it’s extremely hard to get them off it.
“When children who haven’t even reached their teens are being referred for this, questions really do have to be asked about the parents too.
“Housebreaking generally is a problem across Scotland, with an extremely poor clear-up rate. Having hundreds of under-18s contribute to this only makes things worse.”
Victim Support Scotland’s Alan McCloskey said:“Any victim of a housebreaking crime can contact us for support.
“We offer a free and confidential service, providing practical assistance, emotional support, safety advice and help to understand the complex criminal justice system.”
Contact the helpline on 0345 603 9213 or visit victimsupportsco.org.uk.